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To recognise the 100th anniversary of the Royal Air Force on April 1, 2018, Christopher Ward and long-time collaborator TMB Art Metal have developed a striking limited edition piece with quite some story behind it:

On 15 September 1940, a Hawker Hurricane fighter plane, call sign P2725 TM-B, was being flown by Flight Lieutenant Raymond T. Holmes in the defence of London. This famous Hurricane, out of bullets, did what was needed to take out a German bomber heading for Buckingham Palace on a bombing run: it rammed the plane, causing them both to crash, while Holmes parachuted to safety. P2725 TM-B was lost – but Buck House was saved. And it’s part of this very plane that’s been used in the making of Christopher Ward’s striking limited edition P2725 TM-B watch, released to help celebrate the 100th anniversary of the RAF.

Flight Lieutenant Ray Holmes and the crash sites of the two planes

Top left: Flight Lieutenant Ray Holmes, sitting atop P2725. Top right: The German Dornier bomber’s crash site, outside Victoria station. Bottom: P2725’s crash site on Buckingham Palace Road, 15 September 1940.

But how did parts from this most legendary of planes become available?

15 September 1940 is today remembered as ‘Battle of Britain Day’ – and considered a turning point in the War – and many years later, in 2004, Christopher Bennett, a professional photographer, TV video editor and cameraman, led a dig to excavate the remaining wreckage of Holmes’ Hurricane from under the London streets. The whole adventure was featured in a National Geographic Channel Documentary, The Search for the Lost Fighter Plane.

 

“The Hurricane came down very steeply where Buckingham Palace Road meets Ebury Bridge,” Chris says, “and the impact smashed the heavy Merlin engine right into the ground. Our hope was the engine and other parts of the plane were still down there, with the pipes and sewers filled in above.” With all relevant authorities very much behind the project, Chris – having used intuition, triangulation and historical evidence to establish where the plane might be – was allowed to start digging. But would they find anything? Near surface bits and pieces told them they were on the right track, then nothing – just lots of river clay, going down one, two, three feet. “We started to panic,” says Chris, “then, happily, hit the remains.

We recovered perhaps a third of the smashed Rolls-Royce Merlin, still reasonably well preserved throughout the years in its own oil. However any of the metal components not in oil suffered and we collected about 20kg of very badly corroded shards of aluminium engine casing, which I later turned into ingots – and it’s one of these that’s provided the metal inside Christopher Ward’s P2725 TM-B watch, released to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the RAF, and limited to 100 pieces.” The main engine section, along with the Hurricane’s control column, are now on display at the RAF Museum, Hendon, where P2725 took off from on 15 September 1940.

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The aluminium section of P2725’s Merlin engine, recovered from underneath Buckingham Palace Road, is cut in anticipation of becoming part of the C9.

For Chris, this is by far the most important piece of ‘precious metal’ he has ever recovered. After all, this Hurricane’s story is properly astounding, and it was this very find that led him to start his company, TMB Art Metal, in the first place. (The ‘TMB’ bit comes from the plane’s call sign, of course, while the ‘Art Metal’ was added not only because it perfectly fits what he does, but because it was the name on one of the buildings next to where the Hurricane had crashed.)

“When Mike [France, CW co-founder] first asked me if I had anything that might be suitable to celebrate a century of the RAF,” he says, “it was hard to look past this particular Hurricane. As our most plentiful fighter during the Battle of Britain, it’s arguably the RAF’s most important plane – and this example has just such a great story attached.”

As for the watch itself, it’s a gorgeous period-looking piece, boasting a face design that takes a great deal of design influence from the Smiths instruments in the Hurricane’s cockpit. Inside the 43mm black DLC sandblasted case sits an ETA Valgranges A07.161 automatic movement with power reserve, while the actual metal from the Hurricane takes pride of place on the case back, where it’s been engraved with a map of central London, with the spot where the plane crashed picked out as a red dot. Chris’s involvement with the final watch included some input into the design, not least of which was the inclusion of two quick release straps with each example: a brown vintage leather version, and a high quality khaki canvas strap to echo the material of which much of the plane was made.

C9 P2725 TM-B limited edition watch

The final piece is certainly beautiful, and has provenance that’s virtually unequalled in the horological world.

The C9 P2725 TM-B Limited Edition can be viewed here. To reserve your serial number contact our Customer Services Manager, Scott Callaway.

C9 P2725 TM-B limited edition watch - laydown

We’ve all done it, got turned around on some narrow, winding city streets and then lost all sense of orientation. Perhaps it’s a foreign country and you can’t use your data to pinpoint where you are, or perhaps your phone is just incredibly slow and you’re in a rush. Either way, the trappings of modern phone-based pathfinding can fail and then what?

The importance of navigating via timepieces has been recognised since the 1720s, when pioneers such as the great British clockmaker John Harrison attempted to solve the problem of determining longitude at sea via accurate timekeeping. Nowadays, sea-based navigation may be done via satellite positioning, but that doesn’t mean that timepieces have lost their value or ability to help us find our bearings when we need them most.

Here is a simple way of telling which direction you’re traveling, just by using the humble wristwatch (although not a digital one!):

If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere (and can see the Sun)
1. Take your watch and hold it horizontally, dial pointing upward at the sky. You can do this with the watch on your wrist or off your wrist, it makes no difference.
2. Point the hour hand at the sun whilst still keeping the watch level. It doesn’t matter what time of day you are doing this, but the watch needs to be keeping good time. If you’re having difficulty pointing the watch directly at the Sun (for instance if it’s really bright out and hard to see exactly where the sun is positioned in the sky) use the shadow of a thin object instead, such as a lamppost. By pointing at such a shadow, you are essentially lining up exactly the position of the sun in relation to yourself.
3. This is trickiest bit of the whole process, but it’s relatively straightforward with a bit of practice. With the hour hand still pointed at the sun, there will be an area between the hour hand and the 12 o’clock marker. If you divide this area exactly in half you will create a midway line; this is your north-south divide. The point closest to the sun will be south, whilst on the other side of the watch will lie north.

As a worked example, suppose it is exactly ten o’clock in the morning. You can see the sun clearly and point the hour hand at it. The area between 10am and 12pm is just two hours wide, which means that, in this case, the bisecting line will run from the 11 marker (south) to the 5 marker (north). As a result, east must lie at the 8 marker and west at 2pm. And there you have it, the complete compass reading.

And if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere
If you happen to find yourself in the Southern Hemisphere, the important thing to remember is that the process described above is inverted. Rather than the hour hand, you will point the 12 o’clock marking at the sun, and instead of south lying on the side closest to the sun, it will be north. Otherwise the entire process is the same.

One last point to note, it easy to ascertain the midpoint when the time is at complete hours, especially even ones, but a bit tricky when the time is partway through an hour; this is why watches with moveable bezels come in particularly handy for navigation purposes.

If you practice finding your bearings with a wristwatch you’ll be surprised at how readily you can orientate yourself regardless of how lost you may have become. Done frequently enough, your wrist-based compass will become internalised as a sixth sense.

C60 Trident COSC 600

Jamie Maddison is a British explorer of Central Asia. He wears a Christopher Ward C60 Trident COSC 600 and regularly uses it to correct his bearings through the busy streets of London, where he lives.